Telling Brand Stories in the Digital Space

Often people equate branding with “having a logo.” Not the case. In order to get your brand to stick in a customer’s head, you need more than a type treatment. You need a story.

For this reason, brands have long used storytelling for the TV format. Subway’s Jared story, Apple’s 1984, ESPN’s This is Sportscenter. It’s 30 seconds, tell a story, be memorable, go. But online? Users want usability. They want functionality. Isn’t linear storytelling getting in their way?

No. Well, maybe. Sometimes. Yes. OK, hold on, let me get my funnel.


At the top of the funnel, you have people who don’t know what they want and don’t know what you sell. The solution? Tell them a story. Entice them. Wow them. Make them smile.


As they work their way down the funnel, getting closer and closer to adding to cart and checking out, GET OUT OF THEIR WAY. Make the process easy and painless.


And then when they’ve bought their washing machine or new patent pumps, engage with them again. Don’t let them slip away into the land of buyer’s remorse.



Truth is, not a lot of brands are doing this digital storytelling thing that well. A customer can go from one retailer’s website to another and not notice the difference.

But there are a few gems out there. (If you know of more, drop ’em in the comments.)



What’s good: Uniqlo is transparent about how and why they make their clothes the way they do. They tell their own story, as well as the stories of the people who wear the clothes. Uniqlo makes who they are and what they stand for clear and interesting for customers.

What’s not so good: Uniqlo’s products aren’t for sale online in the US. No matter how enticing their story is, it’s not converting visitors into online shoppers. A huge loss.



What’s good: Anthropolgie’s online magazine uses stories to connect with its audience. They know the specifics of what their customers like (sunhats, traveling) and how to reach them. In the example above, they collaborated with well-known illustrator Oliver Jeffers to tell a visual story that customers are likely to enjoy, and more importantly, share with friends. They even tied in related product below the feature.

What’s not so good: Most of the brand’s storytelling is in its online magazine. The product pages offer little story or information, except for what customers have to say. Great if customers are happy, good spellers;  not so great otherwise.




What’s good: Lu Lu Lemon balances visual shopping with its storytelling beautifully. Customers looking for more than a pretty picture can watch a relevant video or discover what Alexandra’s wearing in the header. Just by naming the model, Lu Lu Lemon has added a touch of allure for the user. What is Alexandra wearing??

What’s not so good: Following these stories (the video, the header) leads to dead ends. Digital stories are circles, not straight lines. They should always offer the user something more.




What’s good: Kipling’s storytelling uses the medium impeccably. The site’s well-written, well-designed and well-coded. The Brazilian brand knows its audience and has created an experience that engages with them on several levels. Seriously, that image above isn’t doing it justice. Go explore. Now.

What’s not so good: The site’s in Portuguese and I speak English? Kipling is delivering a quality story and experience for its users; there’s not much to criticize here.




What’s good: On top of telling their own story, IWC offers a rich story for each one of its products. Product descriptions go beyond the technical specs; they create full lifestyles to entice customers and elevate the brand’s image.

What’s not so good: No online shopping. While the call to action to find a retailer or email their conceirge is clear, IWC is missing out on the easy sale.

Telling a brand’s story in the digital space is not simple. You need to consider usability, audience, relevancy, tone, style, design and much, much more.

But it’s worth the effort.  Telling a memorable story is what gets customers to go straight to your site to shop versus going straight to Google.

It’s worth the effort.

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